VT-ENGAGE, Virginia Tech’s volunteer program, was established in October 2007, partially in response to the April 16 tragedy and to provide resources to help people fulfill the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). During the 2007-08 academic year, more than 350,000 hours were pledged and served by students, faculty, staff members, and alumni participating in VT-ENGAGE.
VT-ENGAGE is developing Remembrance projects on an ongoing basis to honor the lives of those lost on April 16. The goal is to develop sustainable community service projects, including educational programs for school children, related to the unique and special talents and interest areas of each of the people who were lost.
Remember, serve, and learn are the primary components of the VT-ENGAGE program, and they are closely intertwined. Service can be a powerful way to honor and help carry out the potential of a life cut short. Remembrance projects already have been established by families, friends, and alumni to honor those lost on April 16, including Teach for Madame, Teach for Jamie, the Ryan "Stack" Clark Build, and Remembrance Through Dance.
Teach for Madame is a program developed by Virginia Tech French students to teach French at Blacksburg, Va., elementary schools in remembrance of their professor, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak. The program just finished its second year and is offered at Harding Avenue Elementary, Gilbert Linkous Elementary, and Kipps Elementary School in Blacksburg.
A similar program to teach German to elementary students after school, Teach for Jamie, is provided at Beeks Elementary School and Kipps Elementary School in Blacksburg. In its first year, about 15 Virginia Tech students served as teachers to 50 elementary students. The Teach for Jamie program was established by German students in remembrance of their professor, Jamie Bishop.
In early May 2009, the Marching Virginians, the marching band for Virginia Tech, began construction on a Habitat for Humanity house for a family in Blacksburg. The project is called the Ryan "Stack" Clark Build. Many of the Marching Virginians and their families participated in this service event in memory of Clark, who was a member of the Marching Virginians and a resident advisor at Virginia Tech.
The Virginia Tech Contemporary Dance Ensemble sponsors a wide variety of dance workshops in memory of Reema Samaha who was a dancer and member of the ensemble. The Contemporary Dance Ensemble also performs its major production, Remembrance Through Dance, each April 16th in memory of those who were lost and as a special tribute to Samaha.
In addition to the Remembrance projects, VT-ENGAGE provides resources to students, faculty, staff, and alumni who volunteer as a way to give back to their community. Volunteers can pledge and record their service hours and look for opportunities in their communities. VT-ENGAGE is part of the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships. The center was formed in the fall of 2008 to strengthen partnerships between Virginia Tech and the community. Previous projects that VT-ENGAGE sponsored include Real Outreach Experiences in Engineering, which assigned first-year engineering students to solve design-related problems for not-for-profit agencies in the Blacksburg area.
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